Diocesan News

Parishioner’s Love for Queens Church Lives on in Endowment for Academy’s Students

Father Peter Purpura, seated at the altar during the graduation ceremony, says the late Rose Angelicola’s bequest is important because it will allow Our Lady of Hope Church to help students seeking to continue their Catholic education.

MIDDLE VILLAGE — Rose Angelicola never had children, but when she passed away last year at age 91, she left a legacy of love and commitment to young people.

Angelicola bequeathed a large sum of money to Our Lady of Hope Church in Middle Village, where she was a parishioner for more than 60 years, and the church worked with her family and the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens to use $100,000 of the bequest to establish an endowment in her name.

Part of that endowment is being used to create a scholarship program for graduating students of Our Lady of Hope Catholic Academy.

Thanks to Angelicola’s generosity, each year two lucky eighth grade students graduating from Our Lady of Hope who are planning to attend Catholic high schools will be awarded $2,000 each.

The first Rose Angelicola Scholarship was awarded to Elizabeth Morscher at the academy’s graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 15, at Our Lady of Hope Church. Elizabeth was selected for excelling in math and science.

Rose Angelica and her husband Joseph moved to Middle Village from Williamsburg and immediately felt at home in the neighborhood, her family said. (Photos: Courtesy of George DeStefano)

Father Peter Purpura, pastor of Our Lady of Hope, explained that only one scholarship was awarded for the inaugural year because of the newness of the scholarship but that two will be handed out at the academy’s graduations starting next year. 

Father Purpura called Angelicola’s donation a great gift. “It’s very humbling as a parish to see such generosity from someone like this. To see Rose’s love for the parish and our school is really inspiring,” he said.

Elizabeth, who plans to attend The Mary Louis Academy, said being the first to be awarded the new scholarship was quite an honor. “I’m really surprised and grateful to receive it. It’s not something I expected,” she said after the ceremony.

Angelicola’s connection to Our Lady of Hope Church began in 1961. That’s when she and her husband Joseph purchased a house in Middle Village. Their home was located near Our Lady of Hope so the couple started attending Mass there.

Rose Angelicola (second from left) enjoys a family party. Although she had no children, she was close to the younger members of her family.

“I can’t remember a time when they weren’t going to that church,” said George DeStefano, Angelicola’s nephew. His aunt was involved with women’s ministries in the church and the couple would often go on weekend retreats with fellow parishioners, he added.

While the Angelicolas had no children, Rose’s professional life revolved around the needs of kids. She worked for many years as a bookkeeper for the school lunch program run by the New York City Department of Education.

All through the years, she faithfully attended Mass at Our Lady of Hope — until the pandemic. “She stopped going to church during the COVID lockdown and wasn’t able to return. But people would come to the house to bring her Communion. That meant a lot to her,” DeStefano said.

Angelicola died of natural causes on April 29, 2023. Her funeral Mass took place at her beloved Our Lady of Hope Church. She is buried in St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village.

While Elizabeth Morscher was honored for excelling in math and science, future winners might be chosen for a different reason, DeStefano explained. “We’ve not identified the best way for the scholarships moving forward,” he added.

The Class of 2024 of Our Lady of Hope Catholic Academy, processing into the church for the graduation ceremony, includes many students who plan to attend Catholic high schools — something Rose Angelicola’s family says would have pleased her because she was a proponent of Catholic education. (Photos: Paula Katinas)

DeStefano is working with Father Purpura and John Notaro, executive director of Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens, to establish a set of formal criteria for students to qualify for the scholarship. 

“It will be merit-based, but we’re not 100% sure what else will be involved. We will be discussing that,” said Notaro, whose foundation is administering the endowment.

Technically, Angelicola left the $100,000 to Our Lady of Hope Church. While she did not express in writing her wish that the church use the money for the benefit of the academy’s students, DeStefano said his late aunt often talked about the importance of Catholic education.

Notaro said that Father Purpura has a deep commitment to the academy. “It’s a top priority for him,” he added.

DeStefano, who grew up in Maspeth and now lives in Maryland, was unable to attend the June 15 graduation, but said he feels a sense of pride.

“My family is awfully proud and frankly privileged to know that in some way her legacy will remain,” he explained.